I have a high tolerance for sour foods; so not only do I have a sweet tooth, I also have a sour tooth to boot. Back in college, there was this candy called “Super Lemon,” a hard, yellow sweet with a matching wrapper showing an animated lemon all puckered up. My friends would pop this marble-sized candy into their mouths, and on cue, pucker up like the beleaguered lemon on the wrapper. Seeing them with their eyes all crossed and their eyebrows reaching for the skies, I could only giggle maniacally. Taunting them, I’d pop a Super Lemon into my mouth and not even wince.
Such is my power over sour foods that I’ve been known to drink vinegar, sipping it in little cups like espresso. I still do actually, except now I prefer to quaff down white balsamic vinegar or the vinegar taht comes with those Lapid’s Chiciharon packs. Of course like any self-respecting Filipino, I adore green mangoes with bagoong, sometimes even throwing in a whole handful of rock salt just to up the sour-salty factor. And I’ve been sucking salted lemon slices since I was in grade school. I’m quite used to family members staring at me with one eyebrow cocked, their faces echoing their disbelief.
Even when I was pregnant with Boo, I had intense cravings for sampaloc (tamarind) and paksiw na bangus. Once, I even had my Bin climb a kamias tree for me so that I could have some of its sour bounty, bright green bullets beckoning to me. At home, I’d make beef sinigang that consisted of the contents of one and a half sinigang mix packs, and I still cook it that way now even though I’m no longer pregnant.
Being a fan of the supremely sour, it’s only natural that I worship the citrus family ”“ lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and pomelos. I dream of someday sucking on salted halves of Japan’s yuzu and Thailand’s kaffir limes. And it’s but obvious that I’m a fan of my very own Philippine calamansi. Though I have yet to salt and suck on it like a lollipop (I’m apprehensive ”“ all those tiny seeds!), I’d feel incomplete if I didn’t have any in the house.
Widely believed to be the product of a mandarin orange and a kumquat, calamansi (also kalamansi) is indispensable in Filipino cuisine from drinks to dipping sauces (sawsawan), as well as marinades, preserves, and flavorings. It’s met with some success in baked goods like Boracay’s famous calamansi bars (which I haven’t tried yet) and calamansi muffins. I’ve also encountered a calamansi meringue pie but it was an off-putting foam green (!) so I stayed far away.
And now a courageous team of six college students has taken a chance on the calamansi by turning it into a marmalade. Classmates in Legal Management at the Ateneo, the group is led by Angela Kagaoan, who tells me that they’ve named their business, Bountiful Harvest. What started out as an idea for Petal Marmalade (a marmalade with edible flowers), it was revised upon a suggestion to use calamansi as a base. A wise move I say, since calamansi is eternally more edible than petals, wouldn’t you agree?
The deeply golden marmalade is similar in color to burnished caramel. A teaspoonful offers up a substance that’s quite viscous, indeed it will neither shake nor shiver on my knife and it holds its angles when cut. I’m starting to think that this marmalade has too much pectin or a similar gelling agent, but I cease complaining when I see how smoothly it spreads on my bread and today, on this short-crust scone I whipped up earlier.
Bountiful Harvest’s calamansi marmalade is a tribute, a true showcase to this indispensable citrus. Like a true marmalade which possesses both preserves and rind, its flavor comes through clearly, sparkling on the palate with a surge of sweetness and then the tang of sour on both sides of the tongue, followed by the chew of the calamansi rind.
Aromatic and zesty, the flavor zips around my mouth, and I find myself wanting more, the pleasantly acidic aftertaste cutting through the buttery flavors of my scone. On another day, I try dipping toast soldiers (similar to toast points but a lot smaller) that have been spread with calamansi marmalade into my soft-boiled egg. Tart and tasty, the marmalade cuts nicely through the velvetiness of the egg and the salinity of the sea salt, ending in a gentle wave of acidity.
Ah, yet another thing to boost my sour tooth.
Bountiful Harvest Calamansi Marmalade
10oz bottle/P120; 7 oz and 4 oz jars available for the holidays.
For orders, contact Angela Kagaoan: 632.372-0511, 0922.837-9838 or visit 124 Scout Ojeda, Quezon City.